The end of the week…

I am rather glad it’s Friday – I’ve had a tiring week. Although I should say I’ve got a busy weekend ahead of me too!

I had lessons in Clermont Ferrand on Tuesday afternoon, so I went down in the morning, stopping at Action in Thiers to buy a curtain. This is because all the churches going to Convention (next week) have been asked to bring their church banner. The closest Christ Church has to a banner is a felt-and-glue thing that the children made some years ago, with wobbly edges and horrid badly cut out letters. Rob, our Rector, asked me to take it to Convention, but I offered to “do something with it”.

Here it is with new letters, which I cut out and put onto white felt, before attaching to the background. Before, the red letters didn’t show up so well.

I’ve cut off the “vine” at the side to make it narrower; I’ve got “Clermont Ferrand” in blue letters on white felt, and I have bought a curtain, with ready made hoops at the top.

Friend Cathy is coming with her sewing machine tomorrow to attach the blue felt to the grey curtain; attach the “Clermont Ferrand” words and the vine along the bottom. Hopefully she’ll be able to shorten the curtain too, as it’s too long at the moment too.  It’s not great, all still being a bit wobbley, but we’re getting there.

ANYWAY on the way to Clermont I bought the curtain, and then arrived at ILS to do my preparation. However, we mustn’t call it ILS now, as the company has changed its name and is now known as “Bonjour World”

Personally, I’ve had mixed reactions to the name change, but it’s a done deal, so there you go. I did 3 hours teaching and was fairly knackered when I got home.

Wednesday was my day in Roanne, with 7 hours or so of teaching – strangely I didn’t find this as tiring as Tuesday: maybe I’d slept better the night before.

Then yesterday I had 3.5 hours teaching in Clermont again. I spent the morning at home preparing & doing other things. The lessons were fine, although I hadn’t actually got the right level of activities for one of the students. I managed to busk it, and hopefully will be better prepared next time. I was taking over frrom another teacher and he hadn’t really briefed me that well.

Today I’ve been home, getting ready for the next few lessons. I’m off to Convention on Wednesday, with the excitement of the elections.

Tomorrow lunch time, I’m helping serve meals for the Cycle Club Telethon event.

This is an annual event, rather like Children in Need – it takes place in December, but the Cycle Club got fed up getting freezing cold, or having to cancel because of inclement weather, so they moved their fund raiser to October. Basically any cyclist who wants to can join the ride and come along to the meal too, for a price. Also, anyone else who wants to can join in with the lunch too.

Organisée par le Club de Saint-Just-en-Chevalet, la randonnée est ouverte à tous. Tous les cyclistes (vélo de route à assistance électrique, VTT), de n’importe quel niveau, sont invités à participer à cette manifestation pour sillonner le Pays d’Urfé.

Au programme : 8h départ pour une boucle de 49 km (allure modérée, encadrée par une voiture ouvreuse et une voiture balai sécurisée par les motards de Saint-Germain-Laval) avec une pause à 10h à la Salle des fêtes de Saint-Priest-la-Prugne, 12h Repas partagé ouvert à toutes et à tous (cyclos, non cyclos, habitants), 14h départ pour une boucle de 42 km, 16h30 retour sur Saint-Just-en-Chevalet.

Inscription avant le 10/10. Tarifs : 15€/repas (bénéfices reversés à l’AFM)

Last year the weather wasn’t so good – lots of waterproofs in evidence!

In the afternoon Friend Cathy will help me with the banner. On Sunday morning I’ll be at Church, but I’m going to skive off the cleaning which is happening after the service, as in the afternoon I’ve got to pop over to Friend Mij, to collect some wood turning that her husband has done for Christmas presents. He does some beautiful things, and I’ll show you some of them when I have them.

Up early Monday morning – 6.30 at the latest (YAWN!!) as I’ll need to leave by 7.30 to get to Bonjour World office for 8.30 for my lesson that starts at 9.00!!

Now I have to go and get Pomme into her basket – she’s off to the vets for her injections. I don’t know how she will react…

 

 

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Good things have been done!

I’m writing this on Friday. I think it will get published on Sunday.

Good Thing #1: I made some scones which I took across to Friend M. I made her a card a couple of weeks back, to encourage her while she was in rehab, and she came back home on Wednesday. We went to see her, and her partner, M, and it was such a pleasure to see her looking so much better. She looked brighter and cheerier, and explained a little about what she had been through. And she said firmly “Now I’m drinking nothing but water!” Good for her. We are hoping to re-start our card evenings, where we try to teach them cribbage and they try to teach us Tarot. (Don’t worry – it’s NOT reading tarot cards. It’s just the name of a card game.)

Here are the scones. I may have put one or two in the freezer for us!!

Good Thing #2: M, her partner, said he was driving down to Clermont today with someone from the village, to take clothes and shoes to a centre for refugees and migrants in Place 1ere Mai. I had already sorted out a bag of various bits and bobs, as I changed my wardrobe over yesterday…Autumn draws on and I’m thinking about fleeces! But Mr FD’s wardrobe is a mess.

Here’s a photo of the camp that is starting to grow in Clermont Ferrand

So I encouraged him to first go through the mountain of discarded shoes at the bottom of the coat wardrobe in the downstairs room. Some were too badly damaged to be given away, but there were five pairs that, although they were a bit battered, or rubbed Mr FD’s feet, were certainly good for a season’s wear. The really horrid ones have been set aside to go to the tip. Then he emptied his wardrobe upstairs and went through a pile of jumpers and tops that he doesn’t wear – they’re too short, or too small, or he doesn’t wear them…There were a few I was tempted to appropriate, until I remembered I had loads of clothes and these were going to people who were going to struggle to get through the winter. We took five bags of stuff across to M for him to take – including some hats and scarves which we don’t wear now.

Good Thing #3: While we were there M gave us an orange box full of peaches and one full of apples. To be honest, I think he was glad to be getting rid of them! So I skinned, chopped and sorted out the bruised bits from all the peaches, and made several freezer boxes full of peach compote/purée. Then Mr FD peeled and cored about half the apples – the other half were too damaged and bruised to be used. We could have gone through and picked and chopped the good bits but we already have boxes of stewed apple in the freezer and there’s a limit to how much one needs. But the leftovers are at least going to the composting bin at the tip.

Good Thing #4: I’ve prepared dinner for the Poor Cats. I fed them on Wednesday, and I’m due to feed them today as well. I used up some refused food from our Not-So-Poor Cats, plus a couple of tins of fairly cheap cat food. This gets mixed with hot water and a load of biscuits, which then makes a good mash for them to eat. Over the weekend I hope to also use some polystyrene sheets that Friend Richard gave me, to insulate their shed. I’m going to Emmaus with Friends Richard & Cathy, so I’ll see if I can pick up some cheap duvets/ blankets to help make the shed warmer for the winter.

Even though I didn’t get to do my ironing as I had hoped to do, we both feel that we’ve done Good and Useful Things today!

How irritating!

I have just spent 45 minutes typing a post and then my fat fingers hit a wrong button on my keyboard and it all disappeared…

Never mind, I thought, the WordPress site saves my draft every ten minutes so it will be in draft form. Unfortunately the ten minute “save” period came just after my fat finger disaster, so a blank screen was saved!!

Grr and efferty jeff.

I’ll rewrite it tomorrow -but I feel disinclined to do so now.

 

First day back…

 

Ah – La Rentrée, a tradition in France that is well explained by this blog post – so much so, that I won’t even try to explain it, but urge you to go across to read the article – but basically, it is the return to school, and also the return to work that takes place in September.

For me, I have had a late rentrée, as my “Arret du Travail” was until the end of September. But yesterday, I started work.

Wednesday is the day that I go to Roanne, and work with (mostly) young people from collège (middle school) and Lycée (6th form college equivalent) I finished with three students last year, as they took their BAC and all did well. Hannah and Inès are now studying medicine in St Etienne, and Emeline is studying Tourism in Lyon. I did, however, pick up one new student – the sister of Inès, and Maelan (who I’m still teaching) – but decided to try to space them out a little better so I had more than 10 minutes (after my drive from one student to another) to eat my lunch!

My timetable is now:

10.15-11.45 Yvalda – an older lady who is an Estate Agent. She wants to improve English as she’s a member of Zonta International, a ladies’ group, originating from the US. The group meetings are held in English.

11.45 – 12.30 Travel & lunch. This longer pause gives me about 25 minutes or so to eat, depending on the traffic between Yvalda’s apartment and the car park where I eat lunch. Much better!

12.30-13.15 Valentin – he’s in Première – the penultimate year of Lycée. He is concentrating on the sciences, but thinking about engineering as a career choice.

I then scurry across the road to…

13.20 – 14.20 I teach Adam, who is in Troisième, the last year of Collège. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw him – in the 9 months since I last taught him he has shot up, and is now definitely a young man! I actually mistook him for his older brother!

14.20-15.20 Yannis is Adam’s older brother, and Hannah (medicine in St Etienne)’s younger brother. He’s also  in Première and  concentrating on the sciences. He, Valentin and Maelan (see below) are all good friends.

I then have 5 minutes to drive to…

15.25 – 16.10 Maelan. Another one who’s in Première and concentrating on the sciences! He is the younger brother of Inès.

16.10 – 16.55 Aya – she is my new student. She’s in CM2, which is the last year of Primary School. She has been desperate to take English lessons with me for the last year, so is very keen and motivated at the moment!

Hop back in the car for a ten minute drive to…

17.05 – 17.50 Clément – he’s the younger brother of Emeline (Tourism in Lyon) and is now the student I’ve been teaching longest. I started teaching Pierre Damien, his older brother, back in about 2010, and gradually started teaching Emeline and then Clément. P-D is now also doing medicine in St Etienne. He’s been there for 3 years, and, I believe, is doing well.

That would be when I finished – an hour earlier than last year – but Valentin’s mum has asked if she can have lessons too, so from next week I will

hop back in the car for a ten minute drive back to…

18.00 – 18.45 Marie-Pierre. I can’t tell you anything about her yet!!

It will take me about 30 minutes to drive home, so I should be back by 19.30. Mr FD will be tasked with preparing dinner, and, I hope, clearing up afterwards. Although we usually have a who-cooks-doesn’t-clear-up rule, the fact that I’ll’ve been out working all day while he’s been at home makes me feel he should do the clearing up too!

Next week I’m also starting with more lessons in Clermont – Tuesday afternoon for three hours, and Thursday afternoon for four. So again, Mr FD will be cooking those days, although I might bring myself to clear up then! It won’t have been such a long day.

Then a fortnight later I’ll have another three hours on Monday morning, so my working week is starting to get a bit fuller. I hope that I’ll be able to pick up some more hours on Tuesday and Thursday morning, but it depends what demands for training come in to ILS. Still, I’ll be working a 20-hour week, which isn’t bad, especially if you factor in the travel – an hour each way to Clermont, and 30 minutes to Roanne.

I’m happy to say I wasn’t too tired when I got back home. I think that I am fully recovered. I saw the Radiographer on Monday, who thinks that everything is doing what it should be. My breast is still sensitive and a little sore, and it’s uncomfortable raising my right arm to its full stretch, but he didn’t seem concerned by either of these things. I need a mammogram before seeing the oncologist in January (but I’m putting that off till December, as my breast is still a bit painful), and I also have to see the surgeon…After which I just have yearly check ups. My homonetherapy is fine – I have a few side effects, but nothing too dire. Some joint pain, a few extra-hot flushes, and some extreme skin dryness in various places: I can cope with this. I haven’t noticed any real psychological effects, such as anxiety, or mood swings, but they may yet arrive!! Of course, Mr FD might say the mood swings have already arrived!!

 

Meeting the Candidates.

What an interesting time I had in Paris on Thursday & Friday!

I went up on the train, and arrived at Paris-Bercy at two o’clock; making my way to the Metro station Alma Marceau I remembered the giggles that Nick and I had when we were in Paris for the Convention a few years back. There is an announcer for all the metro stations for those who have sight problems, and on Line 9 (I think) he has an outrrrrrrrrrrrrrrageous French accent – which one would expect in France, but it is more so! – Nick and I found the pronunciation of the stations on this line incredibly funny, especially when he announced the station “Miromesnil”. The other thing that made us laugh (very childish) was that as we arrived one or t’other of us would say “If I ever have a llama I’m going to call it Marceau”**

When I arrived at the American cathedral, the Junior Guild ladies were setting up for the reception before the “Town Hall” – Q&A session – at 6 pm. So I helped them layout cakes and biscuits, teacups and saucers, until it was time, and people started arriving. I’m not very good in situations like this, but I managed to “work the room” and to give each candidate the card I’d made or them. Last week I had written a verse on each one, that I somehow thought had been “given” specially for each candidate. I might be imagining this, and it was completely random, but I believe God led me to each specific verse for each particular candidate. During this time, each candidate made a personal video – we decided to do it this way, rather than asking them to bring one along, to give a level playing field: each one having someone to film it, each person being in the same room, etc so that the techno-whizzy candidates wouldn’t hold an advantage over those who are less computer savvy. You can view them here if you wish to.

Then there was the Q&A session, which was videoed so that anyone from the parishes who couldn’t make it to the live sessions (or anyone else for that matter!) can view them. This was interesting too, as we saw how each candidate answered each question – they had had the questions in advance and so had been able to prepare an answer, maybe giving the opportunity to get across their “buzz points”. But the “questions from the floor” was even more revealing – these were questions that the candidates had no warning of, and not every one got asked the same question. Here I felt certain people fared better than others, with one candidate giving what I felt was a poor answer to a question about child abuse – although it’s important to take into account this was at the end of a long and exhausting day, with the question being answered on the hoof. After further consideration perhaps a fuller, more rounded answer would have been given. If you go to this link you can see a further link to the videos taken of the sessions.

After 2 hours of questions, there was then the reception in the Deanery of the cathedral. Here it was voting delegates, transition committee, priests of the convocation – and, for the poor candidates, more close up questioning! There was, however, wine and really delicious snacks to help (or hinder!) . I got the chance to speak to the spouses a bit more, although I didn’t speak to all the candidates again.

Then I left to stay at someone’s apartment overnight. The candidates were being whisked off to Munich on Friday, for their Q&A session on Saturday, then on to Rome for Q&A on Sunday! What a whirlwind tour! With each city comes a visit to other work being done in the Convocation, such as the work being done with refugees at the Joel Narfuma Refugee Centre in Rome.

I think that for me, there is one candidate that is standing out, but my “second place” candadate has definitely changed in the light of the walkabout in Paris. I look forward to listening to the videos from Munich and Rome to see if my opinions change, or are reinforced. It’s hard not to be too biased when listening: it’s easy to think “Oh I don’t think he’s right” – so I don’t listen to his answers properly. The elections in October are going to be really interesting…

** I have several of these “If I ever have a …I’m going to call it…” jokes. For example, If I ever have a lizard I’m going to call it Eddie, If I ever have a seagull I’m going to call it George, If I ever have a donkey I’m going to call it Hotie.

EXPLANATION: Eddie Izard is a British comedian, George Segal is an American actor, and Don Quixote is, well, Don Quixote!!

A couple of cards

I haven’t made many cards for a while, but here’s two I have made.

The first is for a family of friends who lost their father/father-in-law/grandfather not long ago:

I didn’t want to make it too sombre, so I chose a cream/grey/yellow colour combination on a darker grey card. I hope it didn’t look too “feminine”. It’s always rather hard to know quite what colours to use in a Condolence card – I usually use purples and greys, but I was led by the background paper here.

The second is a cheerier card, made for a friend who is currently going in a clinic, for depression and alcohol related problems. She recently took an overdose – whether on purpose or not, I don’t know – and this led to her going to the clinic. Her OH has told us that she is responding well, and we hope she’ll be home in a couple of weeks. I hope this will remind her that we are all rooting for her to conquer her demons.

I often look at people’s blogs where they show their workspace – I envy those crafters who can work neatly and in an organised manner…when I’m making a card, my desk looks as though a bomb has hit it. I put things down, and can’t find them again, my glasses (which I take off for close work) get buried under drifts of paper, I have boxes of this and that balanced on top of boxes of other thises and thats…It all becomes a bit of a nightmare. And it’s a real chore to tidy up again afterwards!

I’m sure other people must be so much more organised than me!

The Fun Continues – visiting Villages of Character

On Thursday it is the village market, so the three of us had a wander around, just seeing what there was on offer. (Nothing special – just the usual!) and then we had a coffee back at home, before having lunch.

After lunch Judy went for a walk – getting lost and being befriended by an apparently stray dog – while mum and I stayed home, as Friend Alison was calling round. After that we went for a short walk, which was interrupted by Judy phoning to say that the dog was following her, did I have any suggestions? She decided to retrace her steps, encouraging the dog to go back to where it “picked her up” so to speak, & I guessed where she was and where the dog might belong so went to meet her. My guess was correct, and by the time I met her, she had discovered that the dog belonged to a farm, and that it was, apparently, an inveterate wanderer. The bloke at the farm said that she was very kind to have bothered to bring it back!

This isn’t the correct breed of dog, but I liked the picture!

That evening, we had some apero snacks and acouple of gin and tonics, followed by Spanish pork for dinner, but I can’t remember what we did in the evening…

However I do know that on Friday we went out exploring the local “villages of character” – having first gone to Roanne to explore Noz. I bought a nice top for 3,50€ and a lot of cat food. The last time I bought some of this, the cats wolfed it down. So when I saw it in Noz again, I bought four boxes of 12pouches each. Of course, (and I should have known this would happen!) they are now refusing to eat it! We bought a sandwich in a boulangerie, and took it to the forest of l’Espinasse to eat it.

Then we went to Le Crozet, a medieval village that I have never explored before. We went to the restaurant there with friends a few weeks back, but the village was new to me. It was a delight.

We followed the Discovery Trail around ther village, and admired the beautifully restored buildings. It really was like a film set – with very few alterations, it could have been used immediately! We could imagine the Three Musketeers would come striding round a corner, buckling their swash (or does one swash one’s buckle?!) and demanding a wench to bring them goblets of wine at any moment.

As we left to move on to Ambierle we nodded a Good Day to a Dutch couple in their car.

Ambierle has an ancient priory, with a polychrome roof, typical of the region – although most examples are found further north in Burgundy, in places like Beaune. We had a look around the church, as Judy wanted to see an image of St Roch, after I had told her the story of the Saint. There were many saints depicted in the windows, but not St Roch. However, to some surprise, we did come across the same Dutch couple as we’d met in Le Crozet; slightly embarrassed we nodded at each other, and then the three of us giggled a little at the coincidence.

We had a look around the gift shop and admired the fountain in the courtyard…

… before setting out for St Haon le Chatel, another Medieval village (this time with a tea shop)

We were sitting outside the tea shop, sipping our rather disappointing teas, and nibbling our very disappointing biscuits when Judy hissed “It’s them again!” Slightly unbelievably, it was the Dutch couple again, who were arriving for tea as well. It seemed really bizarre that they were visiting the same villages as us – especially as there are other pretty villages in the area! – but we laughed awkwardly when they arrived, and had a short conversation about the biscuits. We wazlked around the village, but we were all getting a bit tired by then…No Saint Roch in the church again though…

After this we headed home, as we were going out for a meal in the evening. We went to our favourite restaurant, and had a lovely meal. There’s really only one menu – if you have a request, you need to mention when booking (which we did, as Richard, who came with us, is vegetarian) – and so we had a goats cheese and tomato terrine with salad (a late request from Mr FD, who doesn’t eat goiats cheese, meant he had air dried ham with his salad), followed by duck (specially requested for mum)

Richard had a velouté of wild mushrooms, which he said was delicious. Cheese and then a very nice dessert (which I can’t remember, but which was fruity, I think)